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The weirdest questions about cruising in Alaska


At some point, everyone is new to something, including going on a cruise. While we all have typical newbie questions, some questions have you scratching your head a bit.

An Alaskan cruise is a very different experience from a Caribbean cruise in many aspects of planning and navigation, so it’s understandable that experienced and new cruisers alike have concerns.

While reviewing some common internet searches for questions about an Alaskan cruise, I came across a few questions that I didn’t expect, as they seemed a bit far off.

Far be it from me to skip a cruise question, I wanted to share some answers to these concerns in case any of you are thinking the same thing.

Is it cold on an Alaskan cruise?

The temperature of the Alaska cruise depends on the time of year, but yes it will be cooler than any Caribbean cruise in the summer.

That doesn’t mean you’ll shiver in sub-zero temperatures. It’s still summer, after all.

The reason Royal Caribbean sails to Alaska in the summer is that there are more temperate conditions. However, yes, it can get cold in Alaska during the summer.

Matt Hochberg |  Royal Caribbean Blog

Temperatures in Alaska will depend on the month of sailing and how far north or south you cruise.

Read more: When is the best time to go on a cruise to Alaska?

Keep in mind that your ship will skirt the southeast panhandle of Alaska and will not visit the Arctic Circle.

On average, you can expect mild summer temperatures, with average highs in the 60s and lows in the 40s and 50s.

That said, rain is one factor that can make a mild day much colder than it is.

Ovation from the blog live from the seas |  Royal Caribbean Blog

Rain is common in Alaska, but usually short-lived. It’s typical to see a day start out rainy, the sun come up and warm things up, then an hour later another passing downpour, before the sun returns. Ultimately, you should expect rain and pack accordingly so you don’t get drenched and feel colder.

Read more: How does it feel to go on a cruise in Alaska at the end of the season

Do you see icebergs on an Alaskan cruise?

Royal Caribbean publishes 12 photos of breathtaking views from the decks of its ships |  Royal Caribbean Blog

Every Royal Caribbean cruise to Alaska (will attempt) to visit at least one glacier.

What is the difference between a glacier and an iceberg?

A glacier is a giant sheet of ice that can stretch for miles and cover large areas of land and sea. Icebergs are smaller pieces of a glacier that have broken away.

Royal Caribbean will restart Alaska cruises in summer 2021 |  Royal Caribbean Blog

So yes, you will most likely see icebergs in the water as your ship maneuvers in and out of the glacier area.

Typically, these icebergs are small, although they can sometimes be a place for seals to hang out for a break.

The glaciers most commonly visited by Royal Caribbean ships are Endicott Arm Fjord and Dawes Glacier.

Explorer of the Seas Live Blogging - Preamble |  Royal Caribbean Blog

Tracy Arm Fjord stretches 30 miles along the wilderness of the Tongass National Forest.

As you cruise along this deep, narrow passage, you’ll see mountain peaks and waterfalls buried in evergreen-covered cliffs.

Dawes Glacier is known for the granite cliffs that surround the glacier, mountain valleys, and drifting icebergs. Not to mention the harbor seals, brown bears, bald eagles, moose and wolves that you can see around.

Read more: How to Choose the Right Alaska Cruise Itinerary

How bad are mosquitoes in Alaska?

Depending on when you visit Alaska, mosquitoes can be a nuisance.

Mosquitoes are obviously not unique to Alaska, but just like in New Jersey, they are still annoying.

Typically, you’ll find “mosquito season” between the second week of June and the last week of July.

Despite what you may read on the internet, mosquitoes aren’t really as bad as you might think. In fact, cruise ship passengers tend to spend most of their time in and around cities, which have significant breezes that can deter pests.

Mosquitoes tend to be found most often on near windless evenings near a pond, inland forest, or moist tundra.

Read more: What is an Alaskan Inside Passage cruise?

Can you bet on Alaska cruises?

Spotted: Royal Caribbean bans smoking in casinos due to Omicron variant issue |  Royal Caribbean Blog

Just like in the Caribbean, once your ship enters international waters, the casino will open.

The casino will be closed while your ship is docked in a port of call in Alaska, but once it gets away from land and into international waters, it’s gambling on Casino Royale.

Is it true that it never gets dark on an Alaskan cruise?

It will be dark at night, but only for a few hours at most.

Alaska cruises are too far south to really understand why Alaska is known as the “Land of the Midnight Sun”, but during the summer there can be up to 20 hours of sunshine.

The amount of daylight versus night will depend on what time of year you are sailing, as well as how far north your vessel is.

Will my cell phone work in Alaska?

What is an Alaska Inside Passage cruise?  |  Royal Caribbean Blog

If you are American, yes your cell phone works in a port in Alaska.

As a US state, Alaska is included in US cell phone plans and you can expect service while you are in and around the ports you visit.

Unlike the lower 48 states, once you move away from the city, coverage can drop quickly due to the terrain and large uninhabited areas.

Read more: Mobile phone use on board a Royal Caribbean cruise

Can you see Russia from Alaska?

The short answer is no.

This question is rooted in former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin’s now famous quote, but unless you’re on Little Diomede Island, you can’t see Russia from anywhere in Alaska.

Do I need a passport to go on an Alaskan cruise?

How To Choose The Right Alaska Cruise Itinerary |  Royal Caribbean Blog

Just like in the Caribbean, if your cruise departs from a US port (i.e. Seattle) and you are a US citizen, you need a passport. But it’s still a very good idea to have one.

Instead, US citizens on a cruise that start and end in the same port in the US can use an original government-issued photo ID (i.e. driver’s license) and an original government-issued birth certificate or original naturalization certificate.

Keep in mind that you would need a passport if you choose a shore excursion that visited Canada.

If your cruise departs from Vancouver, you will need a passport to enter Canada.

My recommendation is to get a passport no matter where your cruise departs from.

Read more: Do you need a passport for a cruise?

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